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Reuters poll finds 78 percent of Americans support fed subsidies for family planning services

A recent poll conducted by Thomson Reuters Pulse Healthcare Survey found than an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that family planning services (not including abortion) for low-income women should be subsidized by the federal government. #

When asked, “Do you think the federal government should subsidize birth control and other family planning services, NOT including abortion, at government-funded clinics for low-income women?” 78 percent of respondents said yes. #

According to the survey, “the percentage decreases with age: while 90% of those 35 years old or under responded yes, that figure dipped to 70% in respondents 65 years old or older.” #

Even though there is clear public support for such policy, states around the country have actively undermined federal efforts to fund family planning. The specific target has been Planned Parenthood, a chain of women’s health clinics that provides family planning services to low-income women. Because some of the clinics list abortion as one of their many services, states have made a political point out of defunding Planned Parenthood. However, for most of the states, federal or state funds did not go to abortion services to begin with. #

The best example is the current battle in Indiana surrounding state efforts to remove state and federal Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood. Anti-abortion rights advocates have said Planned Parenthood was defunded because it is “the largest abortion provider in this nation that we are supporting with our tax dollars.” #

However, the legislation would not seize taxpayer funding for abortions through Medicaid because the federal government already bans the use of Medicaid money for abortions. The biggest result of any such legislation has been providing a barrier to family planning services for low-income women. #

There are efforts in states such as Texas, Wisconsin, North Carolina and others to cut family planning funds for Planned Parenthood. There are also efforts to outright limit family planning access in the state as a whole, in states such as Florida. #

Florida recently cut nearly $1 million from aid to local governments for family planning services. The state is also trying to implement a new Medicaid rule that allows providers to opt out of providing family planning services on “moral or religious grounds.” #

The Thomas Reuters survey results “represent responses from 3,014 survey participants interviewed between April 1-13, 2011. The survey questions, which address consumer attitudes towards oral contraceptives, were developed in conjunction with NPR.” #

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